Building Positive Relationships with Rep Principals – 8 Tactics to Bring You Closer Together

Posted by on June 13, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Building Positive Relationships with Rep Principals – 8 Tactics to Bring You Closer Together

An independent manufacturers’ representative in the building materials industry must maintain strong relationships with the principals they represent to be successful and profitable. This relationship is critically important with primary principals whose product sales represent a large share of a rep’s business, yet it is also important to build relationships with those secondary, smaller manufacturers, whose products are complimentary to the primary principals. A strategy for building these principal relationships needs to be developed and maintained. To be smart, any independent manufacturers’ representative should always remember the following eight tactics: Agree on a fair contract Maintain regular communications Act as an employee Treat the customer service group as a customer Follow company procedures Aggressively market to architects, engineers and end users Travel with the sales manager Maintain an appropriate number principals These ideas might sound simple, but by putting effort forward in these areas, a manufacturer’s rep is significantly more likely to succeed. I have spent over 40 years as an independent manufacturers’ representative in the building materials industry representing both U.S. manufacturers as well as a few international ones.  Although each manufacture operates differently the common thread that connects them is the importance of building personal business relationships with them as well as with their customers. Most of my career has been representing manufacturers of architectural products.  This has been both challenging and rewarding since it required balance of time and effort marketing to architects as well as handling orders and service with the buying customers. The eight tactics discussed are ones I used over the years from trial and error experiences as well as from discussions with other successful reps during manufacturers sales meetings and building industry conventions and seminars.  These tactics generally work with principals producing commodity products as well as architectural products. Let’s look at each of these tactics one-by-one. Agree on a Fair Rep Contract Most manufacturers in the building materials industry use contracts with manufacturers’ representatives that have a clause stating that either party can cancel the agreement for any reason with just a 30-day notice. Although contracts vary regarding how long a terminated rep can collect commissions, in the real world this is negotiable. Manufacturers might consider how many years the rep has had his contract. Most importantly, the time allowed is based on the rep/principal relationship and how the rep has performed over the years. Because of these one-sided termination clauses, much has been written about rep contracts for the building materials industry as well as many other industries. One of the best sources for additional information is the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA). Maintain Regular Communications As is true in all relationships, the proper level and type of communications is critical. The sales manager expects and deserves to fully understand what is happening in a rep’s geographic territory. If the line of communication is not active, the sales manager has reason to suspect that a rep may not be doing the work the manufacturer expects. Maintaining strong communications with principals has many components. One way to start off on the right foot is to set sales goals and market development activities at the beginning of each year that meet both the principals’ and a rep’s business objectives. Large manufacturers often set these goals with little or no input from the...

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Marketing Building Materials – Will Your Company be a Disrupter

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Marketing Building Materials – Will Your Company be a Disrupter

Overview What is “disruptive marketing”? Why is it important for any manufacturer of building materials products to be successful moving forward? Will your company be a disrupter in the building materials industry? At its core, disruptive marketing is a return to the personal with an online twist. It shakes things up by changing customer perceptions about not just the company—but the industry as a whole. Some say that disruptive marketing doesn’t have a concrete meaning because it is always based on the context of the surrounding world. Are companies in the building materials industry prepared to radically change the way they develop and market their products? In a 2015 study discussed in Forbes Magazine, twenty-five companies were considered to be at the top of the list of marketing disrupters. Not one of them was part of the building materials industry or any other part of the construction industry! The construction industry is inefficient compared to most other parts of our economy. Late in the last century while many American manufacturers were adopting lean manufacturing methods, the construction industry, by and large, continued to construct buildings as they had for decades. Some innovative products were introduced, and some new construction methods were adopted; however, none of them were truly disruptive. The article “Is Disruptive Innovation Possible in the Construction Industry” presents an Australian view on this subject. Looking at a concrete example, the digital age brought disruption to the photographic industry. Kodak, however, did not change. In twenty years, they went from the fourth most valuable brand in the world to bankruptcy. As another example, in the 1980s and 1990s, the personal computer put a stop to Digital Equipment Corporation, Wang Laboratories, and other minicomputer makers. There is good news. Disruptive products and disruptive marketing are still in their infancy in most U.S. industries. Companies that continue to market and do business-as-usual are not that far behind yet, but they will fall behind or go out of business soon if they do not begin thinking how they can be disrupters.   Take Action Now Is your company a leader or a follower? Are you prepared for digital disruption or are you planning to be a disrupter? Developing close personal relationships with a high degree of transparency with customers is one of the most important aspects of disruptive marketing. Building material manufacturers must carefully listen to their key customers to learn what these customers need to innovate in their market and quickly develop products or services to satisfy those needs. What manufacturers hear from customers may mean scrapping products that have been a core, profitable part of a manufacturer’s business over the years but will soon become obsolete, if the manufacturer does not act quickly. Customers can not only help manufacturers develop disruptive products; they can also help market these products through shared positive experiences using social media. In a recent Mckinsey & Company study, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, said, “Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.” For another thought-provoking Mckinsey Consulting article, see “An Incumbents Guide to Digital Disruption.” To gain a clearer understanding of what it takes for a company in the building materials industry to become a true “disrupter,” the article 10 Disruptive Marketing Trends All Marketers Should Consider is...

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Substituting Building Material Products

Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Substituting Building Material Products

Substituting building material products prior to bid is an important responsibility of the sales team of any building material manufacturer. No matter how effective a salesman is in marketing to architects, it is impossible for him to know all the players involved in writing specifications in an architect’s office on each and every project. In a majority of projects, the architect wants substitution requests prior to bid, because the owner is interested in receiving bids to obtain the lowest price/best value. Additionally, after a bid, it is easier to close sales with a subcontractor, distributor, or general contractor if a salesman’s product is listed in the specification. When a salesman’s product is not listed in the specifications, what is the best plan to become listed? There are effective practices to this process. Here’s what I suggest. How to submit a substitution prior to bid Make the substitution request at least two weeks in advance of the bid date to allow sufficient time for the architect to review the submittal. It is normally more effective to send the request directly to the project architect. Some architects will not review products prior to bid for any number of reasons, but there is normally a better chance for a response from an architect than a general contractor. The closer the relationship a salesman has with the architect, the better the chance of a response and/or approval to be listed. If the salesman is a trusted advisor, the chance for approval is the highest. Respect the architect’s work and work load. Make a complete submittal with the substitution request  to clearly demonstrate that your product is truly equal to the design standard of one of the products listed in the specification. It should be clear and concise so the architect can review it in a reasonable amount of time. Use the form provided in the specification if there is one. If there is not, use the standard AIA form in the General Requirements, normally in Section 01600. It is not practical in many cases to meet the specification item for item, but the submittal must clearly demonstrate that the submitted product fully meets the intent of the specification. Be aware of the type of specification when preparing the substitution request. Whether it is a proprietary, performance, or open specification, submit the substitution request accordingly. If it is a closed specification, do not make a submittal. Any substitution should be made after the bid. Assemble a complete standard submittal package that can be modified to fit the specifics of the job for the sake of efficiency. Review addenda to check if your product becomes listed. If your product is not listed in an addendum, contact the project architect by telephone or email one week prior to the bid to check on the status of the substitution review process and to ask if there are any questions or clarifications needed. A bid can still be submitted when the architects’ office or the project specifications state there will be no product reviews prior to the bid if the salesman and the manufacturer believe their product is truly equal. There are many reasons a request for substitution does not result in a product being listed in the specification, but the bid becomes less risky the closer the...

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Should Sales Teams use Email, Telephone or Personal Visits?

Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should Sales Teams use Email, Telephone or Personal Visits?

In the construction industry, it seems more and more communication is by email, whether conversations are interoffice, between companies, or by sales teams with customers. Using primarily email communication may seem to make us more efficient, but that assumption may not hold water. Our inboxes are swamped. One study indicated that the average person across all industries receives an average of 115 emails per day. The study indicated that 57% of people do not even read all their emails! Many are simply trashed. How efficient is that? The use of primarily email communication is led by millennials, but even older, more experienced employees are depending more on emails instead of a telephone call or personal visit. This habit is particularly questionable in many instances for sales teams and customer service. Even interoffice emailing should be seriously evaluated. Either telephoning or a meeting in person concerning a question or inquiry is often a more effective use of time than emailing. For the sales team the customer’s preferences should be the primary governing factor in how we communicate. Developing strong personal relationships is the driving force for generating growing sales. People still buy from people they know and like. Customers are interested in quality products and service from manufacturers more than the efficiency of a manufacturer’s management team. Personal visits for the professional sales person are the most important method of communication, because they strengthen personal relationships. They should be used as often as possible and in-line with a customer’s preferences. Personal visits allow for the clearest understanding of a customer’s needs. Misunderstandings are minimized. How can a sales person interpret body language, learn what makes a customer tick, and strengthen relationships using email? If a personal visit is not warranted or practical, a telephone call is the next, best way to communicate with customers. The customer support team should use the telephone as often as possible rather than email. This is particularly true when clarifying details of an order or solving a customer’s problem. The danger of the trend toward email being the predominant method of communication is that a single email often generates a long string of email exchanges back and forth.  Often, a simple telephone call can solve a problem in a couple of minutes and save time for both parties. Telephone calls also minimize the chance for miscommunications and misunderstandings. Each call is an opportunity to learn new information about a customer to continue developing that strong relationship. One challenge of telephone communication in the current business environment is that it leads to voice mails. Like emails, voicemail has reduced human interaction. With voicemail, the caller never knows when the voicemail will be answered, if at all. Customers normally need answers to their questions promptly. Either the employee or an assistant/ receptionist answering the telephone is best for the customer. I know one manufacturer who has changed back from corporate voice mail to a receptionist with very positive results. In some industries voice mail has been eliminated altogether. Although texting is not yet widely used in the construction industry, sending a short text can be used to set up the time and length of a telephone call or meeting. Sending a text message is better than voice mail, because texting normally solicits a response of some sort...

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Communication Begins with Listening

Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Communication Begins with Listening

Listening is one of the most important skills of a professional sales person. If a sales person does not fully understand his customer’s needs and problems, there is no way to provide the highest value product and/or service to satisfy those needs or provide the solutions to his problems. To clearly understand his customers, the sales person must listen. To develop and strengthen strong personal relationships, careful, attentive listening is critical. For the majority of sales people, listening does not come naturally. Sales people love to talk, but while talking, one cannot listen. Learning good listening skills is important; honing them is even more critical. Active listening takes concentration and hard work. It is a complex process, and a conscious intellectual effort is required to become proficient. Why are good listening skills essential for a professional sales person? Remember, listening: Aids in the creation and growth of strong, personal relationships. Customers buy from people they like and trust. Sets professional top producers even further apart from their competition. Gives customers a positive impression of the salesperson, because they know their questions and problems are clearly understood. Assists in closing more sales because the sales person can offer the right product or service to satisfy the customer’s needs. Makes selling more fun. A sales person can look to hundreds of books and read online countless lists of what it takes to  become a better listener; however, after 50 years in marketing and sales, here is my list. How to be a better listener: Make a brief outline before each telephone or personal sales call, whether on paper or in your head. When your objectives are clear in your mind, you can concentrate more fully on listening. Clear your head. Do not carry in preconceived thoughts or prejudices. Make brief notes. This shows your customer you want to remember what he is saying. It also demonstrates interest in what he is talking about. Constantly think, “did I hear what he said correctly?” Not only listen to needs and problems to be solved, but listen for solutions. Many times customers indicate how they want their needs met or problem solved. Listen for what is not said or what your customer is implying. For many reasons they may not want to state what exact price they need, but the way words and gestures are combined, they often provide this information if you actively listen. Ask for clarification if it seems there are conflicting statements. Ask questions such as, “If I understand you correctly…” or “Tell me more…” Do not argue or rebut statements. The old adage “the customer is always right” is the best philosophy to employ to actively listen. At the end of a conversation, a clarifying comment can be appropriate to be sure your customer knows where you stand on points where you disagree. Give full attention to your customer. Do not let your mind wander to places outside the sales environment. Keep making eye contact. Watch for body language to confirm your customer remains engaged. Return positive body language like nodding your head and appropriate facial expressions to demonstrate you understand and are interested. Stay relaxed. Do not interrupt. After your customer finishes a thought, take three to four seconds before you answer. This also provides time to assemble a...

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7 Essential Traits of Top Building Materials Sales Producers

Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 7 Essential Traits of Top Building Materials Sales Producers

Any manufacturer of building materials must have a professional, high producing sales team. Nothing can be manufactured until a salesperson sells something. From all the applicants who think they can sell, how does a sales manager spot the relatively few that can become top building materials sales producers? What personal traits and skills do the leading sales people possess? The traits discussed here may be applicable to many sales teams, but the unique conditions of the building materials industry present its own challenges. There are many studies by psychologists, marketing consultants, and others in academia on the characteristics of a successful salesperson. Opinions vary widely. In a study by Herbert Greenberg, out of nearly 20 million sales professionals, a mere 20% account for 80% of all sales. From conversations with customers, other industry professionals, and experience with manufacturers, only about 5% of all sales people are true professionals and top sales producers. The 20% are still an important part of a sales team, because they contribute to total sales, but the top 5% are the sales professionals that can generate consistently high sales volumes. (For further reading, “Secrets of Top Sales Achievers” is an interesting reference article discussing this top 5% group.) After almost 40 years of operating a successful independent manufacturers’ representative business and having observed the selling characteristics of hundreds of independent reps as well as direct hire sales people, here are my seven most important traits and skills of top building materials sales producers. Passion Sales passion is tunnel vision focused on customers. Top producers have a passion to gain a total and clear understanding of the needs and problems their customers want resolved. They then initiate an action plan to provide a high value product and/or service to meet their customers’ needs within a specified time frame. A high degree of empathy as well as a highly-practiced skill of intensive listening are required. When a top producer fails to close a sale, he feels he did not fully serve his customer. He did not explain the benefits clearly enough to build a sufficient value for his customer to make a positive buying decision. He evaluates the reasons why he failed, so he can improve his sales techniques and presentation skills. Positive Attitude and Self Image of Success There is no place for negativity for a top building material sales producer. There is no challenge or need too difficult to meet. It is this trait that gives customers supreme confidence that the solution to their needs will be delivered as promised and any problems will be resolved promptly and fairly. Top building materials sales producers must have a certain level of ego as part of their personality. This ego is required to assure the customer that no one else can satisfy his needs as well or as efficiently. Self-Starter The top sales producers do not need a nudge to get started each day. They are normally up early and work with a high level of energy throughout the day. Accomplishments are what count, not just activities. They are goal-oriented and highly organized with specific targets set for each day, month, and year. All targets and actions are aimed squarely at providing total customer satisfaction. They work tirelessly to improve their presentation and sales techniques. They seek out coaching and...

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10 Steps for Managing Customers to Maximize Architectural Sales Success

Posted by on October 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 10 Steps for Managing Customers to Maximize Architectural Sales Success

The professional architectural sales representative of construction products is continually seeking better ways to manage his customers to maximize sales.  How do you know which customers to call on when, and how often? How do you stay organized amid your phone calls, sales visits, paperwork, and planning? Managing your customers is not complicated. It takes organizing and time management skills to develop a plan suitable to meet your sales goals. Finally it requires a focus and personal commitment to follow the plan. 10 Proven Ideas to Manage Customers and Maximize Sales Organizing a sales calling plan must begin with a full understanding of a manufacturer’s market plan and sales goals for its sales representatives. The type and number of customers that a sales representative must call on must be appropriate to meet the sales goals specified in the plan. Use a modified 80/20 rule, referred to as the Pareto Principle, as a guide to establishing customers who should receive the major focus of time and effort. A general rule of thumb is that in any customer data base, approximately 20% of customers will generate 80% of total sales. The specific customers that comprise the 20% are not static. Revaluate classifications annually (or more often if necessary). Do not forget the remaining 80%. Although the top 20% must get the most attention, every customer can and should be significant. Use the letters A, B, and C to classify customers. The A customers are the top 20% that generate approximately 80% of sales. The B group generates approximately 10%-15% of total sales; and the C group generates the balance. The 80/20 rule also applies to the time spent with each category of customer. About 80% of a sales representative’s time should be spent servicing the A customers. The B group requires about 10% -15% of time, and the C group the balance of time. Do not to spend a disproportionate amount of time with B and C customers, because they happen to be more likeable or they create fewer problems than A customers. Establish strong personal relationships particularly with  A customers. Strong personal relationships can overcome many objections such as price or an occasional missed delivery. Customers normally buy from the architectural sales representative they like and respect. Building these relationships take time and effort. Keep an accurate record of what is discussed on each personal visit and telephone call, particularly regarding commitments and subjects that foster a personal relationship.  Recording takes time, but it is critical for sales success and maximizing sales. Use the correct CRM.  Historically Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have not been widely used in the construction industry, but that is changing.  See an article from the AGC of America, “Does CRM Matter for Construction?” If a manufacturer uses a particular CRM system, the architectural sales representative must use that prescribed system. If a sales representative has a choice, select the simplest system that provides the information needed to track both sales and service history as well as important interactions with each customer. Sales Force and Outlook are examples of two sophisticated CRM systems that are used by manufacturers.  If your need is simply to keep track of contacts, addresses, and appointments, Google’s gmail suite, a free suite of tools, may be all you need. Organize a personal...

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A Successful Sales Representative Must Manage Time

Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Successful Sales Representative Must Manage Time

A successful architectural sales representative, must be an efficient manager of time, whether he is a direct hire or an independent manufacturers’ representative. Time is a sales representative’s major asset, so he must optimize his time to be a sales leader. Efficient time management requires planning. An efficient time management system begins with an Annual Marketing Plan that includes broad objectives that are in-tune and coordinated with a corporate plan. Using this broad plan, the time management system then incorporates prioritized daily, weekly, and monthly planning lists. Each list has a similar format with the daily list having the most detail and the weekly and monthly lists having broader action items. One excellent time planning system is based on a variation of what is referred to as the “Eisenhower Box,” developed by Dwight Eisenhower to help evaluate urgency and importance. The items on any of the planning lists with the highest priority are categorized as “Important and Urgent” and are given precedence over all other actions. They are sometimes referred to as “A” items in a planning “to-do” list. To place even more emphasis on the “A” actions, refer to them as the “Focus Actions.” At the end of the list are the “Not Important, Not Urgent” activities, sometimes referred to as “C” items. Many times these “C”s eventually get deleted from a list because they are simply not worth doing. “B” items are normally “Important but Not Urgent.” Here’s a sample of typical activities that might be included in each box: Urgent Not Urgent Important Close a large sale Visit a key customer Not Important Answer a minor service request Complete an unsolicited questionnaire   An example of a partial daily planning list is below: Sales Representative Planning List – Monday July 20, 2015 A – Focus Actions Close large order with “X” (a major customer ) Resolve urgent service problem Quote “Y” (another major customer) B Complete and file weekly expense report Handle minor service problem Complete call summaries for trip just completed C Talk to customer service about being slow to respond to customer complaints Follow-up on the shipping status of a relatively small order With computerized calendars, planning lists are easy to modify and update within a few minutes. Google and Outlook calendars are just two examples. Often, Focus Actions require much more time and thought to complete than the “B” and “C” items. There is a human tendency to complete at least some of the “B” and “C” items before a “Focus “Action,” because they are easy to “cross off the list.” This gives a sales rep satisfaction that considerable actions are being completed. In reality, time is being wasted and not focused on growing sales and providing outstanding customer service. Although “Focus Actions” cannot always be fully accomplished in one planning period, remain committed to complete them. If a sales rep does not clearly understand how his time is being spent, there is no way to devise a program to optimize time. A good place to start developing an efficient time management system is to determine how time is currently spent each day. For a week or two, list all actions on an hourly (or even a 15 minute) calendar. Determine what percent of time is spent in selling, administration, answering manufacturer and...

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The Sales Power of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives in the Building Materials Industry

Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Sales Power of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives in the Building Materials Industry

This blog, originally published in 2015, is being revised with a new title and with greater focus on the building materials industry. The goal of building material manufacturers is to maximize sales at the lowest possible cost and at the same time maintain an outstanding service reputation with their customers. Should the sales team be comprised sales employees, independent manufacturers’ representatives, or a combination of both? A sales employee is totally directed and paid by the manufacturer.  An independent manufacturers’ representative, or “rep,” is a firm who sells products of many manufacturers. The manufacturers’ rep may also help his manufacturers market their products or even be a distributor of products. Reps can be small, one or two-person operations, or they can be larger firms with multiple branches covering large geographic territories. For many reasons large building material manufacturers seem to prefer using employee sales teams in recent years.  Many are overlooking the benefits of a rep.  For small manufacturers or startups, independent manufactures’ representatives are an ideal choice for the sales team.  This type of sales team helps keep sales costs down and can gain quick entry into key markets.   Advantages of Using Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives Cost of sales efforts – Sales costs are directly tied to sales volume. Since a rep is only paid commission on products sold, there are no fixed costs of salary, fringe benefits, travel, or other sales expenses. If sales volume decreases, commissions also go down.   Although the cost of a sales call varies widely from industry to industry, information from the Manufacturers’ Representative Educational Research Foundation indicates that the estimated cost of an individual sales call for a sales employee might range from $250 – $500 per call. This cost includes salary/commission, fringe benefits, other sales costs and overhead. For a rep sales team, these costs are paid by the rep organization. Long Term Personal Relationships – These are a key to the success of any business. Individual reps normally work in a smaller geographical territory than a sales employee. Since a manufacturers’ rep owns his business and lives in his territory, his personal relationships are built over decades. Sales employees turn over much more often due to promotions, resignations or terminations and for many other reasons. Proximity – Since a rep lives in the compact territory he covers, a contact for service to customers is close by. When an architect or engineer or a buying customer requests an office or job site visit by a representative of the manufacturer, a rep can often make the visit within a few hours. Since a sales employee normally covers large geographic territories, his office may be a number of states away from the customer, so a personal visit to handle a service problem or discuss an important order normally takes longer. Preparation and industry-specific expertise –A rep is a trained sales professional. Even if a rep is relatively new, he likely has some past sales experience.  He may already have been trained as an employee of a manufacture.  A manufacturer has modest or no expenses for sales training, beyond specific product training. Overlapping sales opportunities – The multiple lines handled by a manufacturers’ rep allow a rep to operate his business with the lowest possible selling costs per line represented. A visit to a...

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Ten Keys for Success Selling Commercial Construction Products to Architects

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ten Keys for Success Selling Commercial Construction Products to Architects

What defines success for a manufacturer’s product representative who is selling to architects? Success is when a product representative is accepted as a trusted consultant and his manufacturer’s products are included in an architect’s specification as the standard of design. Architects and their consulting engineers are important members of the team that is hired by a building owner to complete a project to meet a specific set of needs. Although architects do not write purchase orders, manufacturers of construction products must call on them to be sure their products are included in the building specifications. A Product Representative’s 10 Key Concepts for Selling to Architects (These concepts also apply to selling to engineers.) Do your Research. For a first call on a particular architect’s office, learn as much as possible about the firm. Sources for information include the architect’s website, general contractors, subcontractors, and other architects. How is the office organized to handle design projects? Are they organized by design studio or by project? Does the architect have a particular clientele or type of work they pursue, or do they design for a wide variety of clients? Is a specific person designated to meet with product representatives, or is this the responsibility of each project manager? Be the Expert. Be technically knowledgeable about your product, industry, and competition. Use project photos and a list of local projects completed by your manufacturer as appropriate. Be prepared to answer an architect’s questions concerning product benefits, specifications, detail questions and pricing relative to competition. If it becomes necessary to check your manufacturer for an answer, provide it in a timely manner. Show Respect. Many manufacturers have a negative opinion of architects. They are described as “different,” fixed in their opinions, and in many other ways just frustrating. Product representatives need to recognize architects as hard working people with a job to do for their clients. Architecture is often a difficult and challenging profession. The architect is responsible for selecting all the varied products that are required to construct a building. They must design and detail the building and work with the rest of the building team to complete the project in a manner that provides the architect’s client with the value promised. For the architect to do his job, he needs professional, knowledgeable product representatives from a broad spectrum of manufacturers. Respect can go a long way in establishing strong personal relationships with architects. 4. Assist with Specifications. Understand how the specifications are generated. Is there a specification writer? Are the specifications generated from an office specification by the project manager and production team? Assist by asking to review the office specification or a specification for a specific project. This provides an opportunity to verify that your manufacturer is included as equal or – better yet – as the design standard. Suggestions can be made to the architect as to how the specification can be strengthened to assure competitive, fair bidding. Assist the architect in writing the type of specification he wants. Do not include features that limit competition unless specifically requested by the architect. 5.  Be Thoughtful of an Architect’s Time. Make appointments for most in-person sales calls. It demonstrates respect for an architect’s time. Balance the use of personal sales calls, telephone calls, and emails to properly serve the architect’s...

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